Ah, I get to tell The Story ™. Brace yourself, it’s a long one.
The following is partially remembered, and partially based off of what my parents have told me.
When I was five years old, I would spend my afternoons after kindergarden at the neighbor’s house, playing with their daughter who was the same age. One particular February day, I was following my usual shitck, hanging out in the backyard with Jenny while under the supervision her mom, when the phone rings inside the house. Jenny’s mom goes inside to answer it to find that it’s Jenny’s dad calling from his new job, and of course he wants to say hello to his little princess. So Jenny goes inside as well, leaving me alone outside.
Alone, that is, except for their three german shepards.
Now, I had no way of knowing this at the time, but this job for the dad was his first after a long dry spell, long enough to make the times tough for them and force them ot tighten their belts a bit. One way they did this was to cut back on how much they fed the dogs. Sure, they could have given them up to the pound, but they were considered part of the family and I don’t think they were ready to let go of them completely.
So, make that alone except for three hungry german shepards.
All three were from the same litter, one named Shadow, since he was completely black except for for his left from paw, one named Lady since she was the only female in the litter, and the named Bear because he was simply huge.
It was Bear that I was petting while I waited for Jenny and her mom to get back. As I remember it, I actually was able to pet him for a while with nothing happening. However, one moment I’m scrathing his head, then in a flash I’m laying prone with his jaws snapping at me and one of his nails digging into my right leg about an inch above the knee. A split second later, Lady runs over to try to drive Bear off of me, but the disparity in size is such that it takes almost no time for Bear to drive her off. Instead, as he sinks his teeth into my left thigh, she tries to pull me away by biting into my scalp. All the while, as I’m pinned on the right, shaken on the left, and pulled on the top, Shadow is barking like crazy, front feet on the chain link fence separating Jenny’s and my yard, trying to grab the attention of anyone who might be home.
I have no concept of how long things went on like this, but eventually I come to find myself gathered in the arms of Jenny’s mom, listening to her frantic apologies of “oh-my-God-oh-my-God-I’m-so-sorr–oh-my-God”. I was rushed back over to my house and my mom, bawling my eyes out as I was sat down in the armchair in the living room, detatched from the bustle as they try to clean the wound or call my dad back from his job. It was then, after they had taken me out of my tattered coveralls, that I had a good look at the damage. My vision blurred by tears, all saw at first an expanse crimson, yet with an small, odd patch of off-white in the center. Yet when the tears fell, I saw what it for what it was: my exposed bone. My eyes raced away from the sight and I spent the rest of the ordeal making sure I kept looking straight ahead.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite the end of the story. You see, I grew up in the boonies, aboslutely bare-assed middle of nowhere. So the nearest hospital? Thirty minutes away.
With the wound cleaned, dad called and promising to meet us at the hospital, and another neighbor with an extra car found who could drive, we set out. At this point, I’m really not aware of what’s going on around me, not quite blacking out, but perhaps more like graying out. We arrive at the hospital and get rushed in to see my pediatrician, who takes one look at me and nearly faints. Keeping her eyes averted, she calls in another doctor to help us. The news? “Our facilities can’t handle this.” They prep me as much as they can, though all I remember is a lot of gauze, and we’re off on an hour drive into the city.
It’s kinda odd what sticks in your memory sometimes. I don’t remember any of the drive to the new hospital or even the building itself, except for it’s emergency room lobby… looked like mosaic tilework in earthen tones. I thought it looked rather lovely. And then I did black out completely.
When I first came to, I was on my back and, though my eyes wouldn’t quite focus all the way, I could make out the bright lights on the cieling and the shadowy figures surrounding me. A thousand questions filled my mind - “Who are you?” “Where’s mom?” “Where’s dad?” “What’s going on?!” - but they each contented with each other for control of my mouth, rendering the end result “Who… whe… whe… wha… WAAAAAAHHH”. And for some reason, the figures around me were unable to discern what I was trying to say from such articulate concerns. Instead they just kept repeating “Shh… don’t worry, it’s only water… it’s only water.” I never did figure out what they were referring to. Perhaps the were cleaning off the wound a bit more? I wasn’t aware of anything else, so it could have been anything, but it did mean there was one more question trying to make the mad dash from my brain to my mouth: “What are you talking about?”. After not too long, I regained enough control of my body to try to look around to get a sense of where I was, though the end result was just some spasming. At that point, one of the shadowy figures sighed and said “Nurse, if you would…” and spouted off a string of gibberish, or at least gibberish to a five year-old. Before I knew it, I was falling back into unconsciousness.
From then until a few weeks later there is a gap in my memory; it wasn’t that I forgot what happened so much as that it seemed no time had passed. In any case, I was staying at home from school, sleeping on the living room couch so that I’d be right next to the front door and easy to check up on. With nothing better to do, I made it my goal to be able to walk across the room. I would try, fall to the floor, crawl back to the couch, then sleep it off so I could try again. I tell you, there was nothing that could complete with the feeling of pride I had when I finally did reach that far wall.
Anyway… that’s enough rambling for one sitting.